Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Snap Back To Reality

Cross season is long, and the story of the season is rarely written in one weekend or one race. It truly is looked at as the sum of the work. I've been happy with how things have been coming together and had a really good weekend racing last weekend.... The race before the race has begun in earnest as I have a number of trips back to New England planned, as well as our normal packed Mid Atlantic Schedule. I am also aware based on school work, I may be trimming back that schedule a bit...

Reality snapped back tonight. School was back in session. It was head first back into supply and demand curves. Looking for equilibrium points. That's what I need to find equilibrium. Unlike the spring season where races were spread out and I could plan, cross is every weekend. I know that to sustain racing every weekend and keep the level of intensity required for school will be impossible. I knew this when I decided to go back to school.

I knew cross would take a back seat.

I didn't quite expect the sweet pangs, and passion of cross to grip me so strongly. I thought I was good with decision altogether.  And so, I'll swing my best, but also know that school has to be first. And that's a decision I'm happy with... I enjoy economics much more than I expected... I'm embracing just loving racing, no pressure with both arms. Every race is a race I have the opportunity to do...

The energy at school yesterday was incredible. All the new undergrads and grad students bombing around, the school is just packed with people. Students starting a journey, excited to be there. Now a 1/4 of the way done, I feel like an old pro at this.  Frat Rats in the back of my class, athletes, daisy duke shorts, GOOD GOD daisy duke shorts. And me, the creepy old man in your class, with bad sideburns. People hugging each other and excited to see each other again after a summer break. Hell, my professor, who I have had previously, greeted me with a big smile, and welcomed me back. Great night. I am stoked.

I have often described the start of cross season like the first day of school. I think I proved out that analogy last night...

thanks for reading.

best to you.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

I have heard every time there's a cross race in August, somewhere a kitten dies.

Sorry Cat Lovers.

Monkey and I headed up to New England last weekend to catch up with my brother and family, and to compete in a couple of cross races. It was hot, and it was fun. Quick recaps follow:


Held at a local high school, some good elevation change, very technical. Fun run up. Good field for the master 35+ dudes. Fast. I kinda blew the start, and spent too much energy on the first three laps trying to get back to the top 5; just when I got close I realized that was a mistake. Settled into steady survival mode, and with 3 to go (we did 8 laps) I found myself in a group with 2 other guys. One I brought back, one bringing me back. I upped my pace a bit, and shed him, but the other dude was on me like a bad suit heading into the final lap. Then I heard his tire blow as he flatted. I stood up a bit just so as to not be passed by a dude with a flat... Up the final climb to the finish I was phoning it in a bit, when Lindine started charging. (the elites raced with the masters) I really didn't want to get lapped, so begrudgingly, I put in one more little effort barely finished on the the lead lap...

Monk got a solid start in the top 8-12 spot and settled into a really nice group. There was some really good battling going on in that group for the bulk of the race. Monk and Jordan had a nice back and forth going, and Monk was finally able to slip away on the final lap for a solid finish. Totally rad.


The women's field was extra large and extra rad. As such the promoter had emailed all the women and offered them there own race an hour later in the day. It was a unanimous yes, and the women's field had there own race. Monk scrummed her way to the front row and had a killer start. Battled in the top 10 for the first two laps (they did 6) before settling into the same group from the previous day. She fought hard to make contact through the barrier with 1/2 a lap to go, but as they came to the road, she ended up on the short end of the group. Still, a super solid ride, and a really good race.

Unlike Saturday, when the gun went off, I got a great start, and sat in 2 second for most of the first two laps before Snoop and Bobby came around me. I was feeling good and having fun. The field was tough, and I kept scrapping. As the race wore on (7 laps) I fell back a few more spots, but with 3 to go was in the top ten and felt good. Then the troubles started. The course was really dry, loamy, and dusty. I was getting away with some silly cornering during the race, but then I started sliding out the front wheel in turns, twice I had to put a foot out, and suddenly I started to lose my nerve. As I entered the final lap, I knew there were 2 dudes chasing, and I was hurting pretty badly. Bad motor, Bad handling, this could be bad.

Then, what I knew would happen 2 years ago when I gave my brother one of my old cross bikes happened. I heard his voice as I was slowly imploding. "dude, there's a guy coming we gotta go..." I stood on it through the last long open straight, mentally thinking that if he didn't get us here, no way was he going to out corner us. Not the Vanderbacons!  The effort was my last match, and while I'm confident Craig could have come around me at this point, he coached me up through the last twisty section, and we rolled across the line together. I gotta say, I've been waiting to race with Craig, and couldn't have been happier or more proud.

Freakin' awesome day, awesome weekend.

It was great to see some MACsters as well as all the NECX folks that are always so kind to Monkey and I. Great stuff.

school starts again Tuesday.

It's going to be a great season.


note all pictures taken at Blunt Park...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Chasing it...

I am not usually a late person. But this week, I've been chasing it all week. Monday getting to Philly Cross track, Tuesday catching up with Jen and Monk to work some cross skillz, and last night getting to  DEL grass track... Had a camera in my back pocket, but you know how sometimes you are rushing and you're late, and so everything just feels like you are rocking in haste? Never pulled the camera out...

yeah, that's been my week.

That and staying up until 10:00 wrenching on bikes, and trying to get stuff together... This included what I am calling project c bike, which is actually coming along better than expected.

school starts again next week. You know more stuff on the plate can only help right?

Grass track was awesome both days I got to ride it this week. Monday's group was a little bigger, and the format different than Wednesdays. Works different skills. You end up in a group, and the course allows for very little passing, you get a good start, and then get real comfortable riding centimeters from the guy in front of you, with a guy to the left of you. If someone leaves an opening, you try an stick your nose it it and make the move.  Wednesday was a much smaller group, and a super sweet oval set up. I expect the group to be much larger next week. I learn a lot from (i) Paul in the way he runs and scores the grass track. Me I got slapped around pretty good by Consorto, Chuck, and Dennis. I was pretty happy to sit on wheels, and hold on for dear life.... Same idea, get in a group make try to make things happen... Really fun, you know except when I find out the flying TT is 4 laps not 3...

I'll work on getting some pictures soon...


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Water Ice Ride and Stuff

Monk and Mom Mom debate Brawy vs. Bounty
rolling out - water ice awaits...

the pace was brutal and took it's toll on everyone...

Jimmy Rock attacked and dropped me on port royal. Port Royal  gives me nightmares.

Monk,  Ann Rock and Stacy..

Art Museum...

water ice to the end of the 

peace through water ice


Friday, August 17, 2012

My Doping Blog

So I can’t really talk about pro’s doping. I can’t really relate to that. Other than I think it’s clearly cheating, and sucks, and disappointing, I have to admit, it just seems like that’s another world from where I live.  I can’t say that if I was given the opportunity to have my dream job- something I’ve worked my entire life for, and could have it, but I'd have to take get a shot in my stomach every day that I wouldn’t do it. I mean if the choice was for me become Duncan Donuts Official Donut Taster or work a 9-5 and all I had to do was get a shot in my ass… Well, I’m not gonna try to say I understand that, or have been in that position, I’d like to think I’d do the right thing, but I really like donuts….

Here’s what I can say… I started racing mountain bikes in 1989. It was 1999 before I became an expert. Part of that was figuring out that I loved racing, and then I scrapped, fought and figured out how to ride a bike to earn my upgrades. This didn’t come easy to me. Needless to say, I’m not one of those guys that says, “if I had started younger I could have been pro” I couldn’t have. I’m not that guy. I’m your team’s mid-pack masters racer that just loves to race his bike. So I don’t feel like another life  has been stolen from me.

But I digress, let me share my doping experience with you:
I clearly remember getting ready at my car with a fellow sport rider, who was faster than me, at maybe it was Wye Mills, and he took a big hit off of an inhaler. I asked him, “dude, you have asthma? That must make racing tough” He said, “no I don’t have asthma, this opens up my lungs, and gets my HR up a little before the races, I always do it…”  I remember the sick feeling in my stomach. This guy was a sales rep, and ended up having a pretty solid racing career, but in my mind, I always remembered that exchange.  

That was my first experience with doping, and maybe I didn’t even know what that was at the time. I just knew that it was wrong. I never had any other exchanges with this guy, and never heard anything else about him, but I’ll be honest I always thought to myself, “if this guy was doing that to make the top 10 in a sport race, what would he do to be a cat1 on the road, or hell race for money…”

Look, I come from a wrestling background. A lightweight wresting background. Where there dirty dudes? yeah, but that usually meant someone who was border line too physical, or someone who had a lot of junk moves.  But this, this is like a 145lber wrestling 130...

In past I may have been kind of naïve about doping in masters racing, but as we have all seen it clearly happens.  Sadly, it’s likely more rampant than I’d like to think.  HYPOTHETICALLY, let’s say there was a team that was dominating a pretty talented masters field.  They were seriously 1-2-3 every week, beating/destroying other really good riders.  In the past, I might have said, “damn those guys must have had the best training camp EVER! “ Now, I admit that I think something much more sinister. Especially if the HYPOTHETICAL team didn’t continue at the same level of dominance after that year, or at the National Series race that year. Again all of this is HYPOTHETICALLY.  A few years ago I wouldn't have thought a thing about it, today this totally HYPOTHETICAL scenario would make me scratch my head a little bit.  That kinda sucks for all of us HUH?

But does it matter? Yeah, it does, and it's not so I can be 22nd vs. 25th in the masters races.  It matters because I believe in fair competition. I believe that we are all faced with life challenges, and train the best we can show up, and go at it. I believe it matters because I don't have to win, I want to be in the fight. I just want it to be a fair fight- Not against a cheater. It matters because when I look at the guys I race against week in and week out, I see myself, we are a mirror for each other, and I don't want to believe that we dope. But we do...  We are supposed to be peers, and frankly, I’d hate to think of myself, or the folks I race with week in and week out in my group as being cheaters.  Seriously, dope to beat me?

Myerson has said to the effect that if people were willing to dope to win a bike race, that what do they do in the other aspects of their life?  Seriously everyone that has gone to bat for a doper has said something like this:  “Joe doper made a mistake he’s really a good guys…”  It’s like the neighbor to the serial killer, who says, “he was such a quiet man…” I’m not saying that someone’s actions can't prove this wrong after the fact, that someone can’t make a mistake, and redeem themselves,  but seriously, if someone is cheating at what is in effect beer league softball how good of a person can they really be? What’s their sense of world worth? They aren’t who I want to call peers. 

I’m really pretty proud of and really like the group of guys I have raced against in and out of  groups for years. During the race I'd bleed out my eyes to beat them, afterwards I hope they had good races. I admit to banging around a bit here and there, but at the end of the day, win, lose or draw, I like these guys, and I respect them. But the damn dirty cheats, they aren’t even playing the same game, and frankly, I don’t want to deal with those sick, sad fucks.

Let me be clear, I could care less if someone smokes pot, or takes a diet supplement, allergy medicine or heck had some tainted supplement that they bought at GNC. I’m talking about masters taking EPO, Human Growth Hormone, or testosterone to make a 50 year old body behave like it’s 25. For me that’s sad. That takes away the camaraderie, and the fun of the game for me. And since we aren’t racing for our mortgage payments, it’s pretty damn ludicruous… For me that’s why it matters…

Recently, John Cutler has put forth a crowd sourcing idea to drug test, that I think as brilliant. As a former race promoter, the cost of trying to bring in drug testing in prohibitive, but at the same time, not having anything creates a safe haven. We tried to figure out at Granogue how to have it , but the cost was too much for us. The only way to put a dent into this stuff is to test. To put a threat out there, that someone could get caught. Here’s a chance for people like me, who think it does matter, to be able to contribute to something to make sure our sport is played fairly. If you think your money is better spent elsewhere, maybe on junior racing or bike advocacy, good on ya! But I think what John is doing is brilliant and I support it 100%.

thanks it. my long winded, picture of doping...


PS. I got an A in my class.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Exhale in 3..2..

Took my final tonight.  I will admit I'm kinda over this class. Been making me crazy, and while I found the material interesting, I didn't like the class. With my trusty excel spread sheet I figured out what the bare minimums I need get keep my A in the class. If I was smart I frankly would have taken another couple days before taking the final. If I was smart I would have scheduled the test for tomorrow or later in the week.

We know, I'm not that smart... I rushed it. I rushed taking the test, I took it too soon...

You know what, armed with my trusty spread sheet, I figured out what I needed to do. I took the test tonight because I HATE THIS FUCKING CLASS and want it over.

I got an 81. My worst score in grad school. My first B in grad school (on a non group project). Plugging that into the spreadsheet, I need a 65 on the second half of the giant group project to get an A in the class. I feel pretty good about my chances. My group is pretty smart and we scored a 88 on the first half of the project. If not, there's a bonus questions worth 10pts, that I REALLY DON'T WANT TO DO, that might still save my ass, if I have to.....

So like a Pavlovian rat, I keep hitting the buzzer to see what the group project grade is...
waiting... refresh.. damn no score yet....

I have no illusions of graduating with a 4.0, but I this class has been so painful, I almost want an A just to spite my experience...  I can do this.... it's almost over... it's almost over....

Frankly, I'm going to enjoy the next couple of weeks off before I dive back into my next class...

maybe I can lose a couple of LBS... had my worst weigh in all year today. No way in hell I'm wearing a skin suit in September at this weight...

you know what, I'm a 1/4 through grad school... that's pretty cool

I promise, next blog will be bike worthy...


Monday, August 13, 2012

It's still hot outside...

but the seasons are starting to change for sure.
 Something is in the air.... A changing of the guard in our garage...

last day of class today. final exam tomorrow then a couple of weeks break.

Group Project due tonight, waiting for a couple of submissions from my teammates. What me worry? Nah... it'll all work out...

best to you all.


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I love the Olympics

the stroke of 10:00 hits, and I smile to my lovely wife and say in an exhausted manner: "Bed Time!"

Monkey, pleads, "Stay up and watch gymnastics with me!" with a coy smile on her face.

I retort, "Sure, thing but you have to get up with me at 5 to study and take care of the dogs..."

"Good night babe, love you! "Monkey says, with a peck on me cheek dismissing me...

Monkey and I headed out to the Rodale Park Last weekend to pick up another crit. Speed Work, Speed work…

Monk did well, worked well with in her group and was pretty well positioned for the sprint. Her field caught the 35+ women just as they entered the finishing straight on the final lap, and Monk took the “discretion is the better part of valor” route and rolled into  the finish with the pack. Pretty proud of what she is doing in the crits the past two weeks. She sums up her experience like this: “terrifying, and so much fun all at once”

My race was really fast, and really hard. I inevitably jumped into the wrong moves, which both times seemed to be followed by moves that stuck. There’s this guy we'll call "W", who my general rule of thumb is to be around him, because he ends up in the right places.  Sure enough, just after I failed to bridge to the second group, he jumped from the field and made it across.

I found myself in the main pack, trying to bridge with Kelly, and this dude from Lancaster with good tattoos, but we’d repeatedly get shut down by teams with riders up the road.  The good part of that is that we got lots of work jumping. The bad news is that we didn’t make any progress at all. At the end of the day I got some good work in, which was really the point. I gotta say that might have been one of the fastest races I have done. I hope to get back to Rodale again in the future. That was really fun.

We are currently registered for 6 cross races for the fall. It was the race to race right? Now that I’m entered,lets hope I can pull my school schedule together enough to actually make it to the start line.

Cross season, my season of the year.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dear Reader,

I'm sorry for the radio silence. Been burning the candle on both ends the past couple of weeks. School is hard right now, and I have an exam tomorrow. My study to everythign else ratio has been off the chart. Tomorrow's exam is pretty much the crux of the course. And as much as I have enjoyed the material, and have enjoyed working problems let me say this : I FUCKING HATE THIS CLASS. I CAN'T WAIT UNTIL IT IS DONE.

okay, I feel better about finally saying it. I've been in denial the entire semester, but you know what, it doesn't matter, I gotta take it, I gotta get a good grade. And so, I study...

So this damn song has been in my head all week, and I blame Jimmy Fallon. Rat Bastard.

So call me, maybe...

Bike Line Corporate is getting into cross this year. They have a bawler squad, and a bawler team leaders in Dennis Smith, Mark Sanford, and Howard Brown. Secretly, they are my pick to win the MAC team competition this year. Bike Therapy is going to be awfully good too...

Bike Line has a focus on cross in the Newark shop they haven't had before. I'm stoked to have new folks in cross. I'll say this in the past the local shop hasn't really paid attention to cross. Howard and the crew at the shop are great to Diane and I. We love hanging out there. But for years, no one at the shop ever asked anything about cross. (okay, Dwayne does)Now, the last three times I have been there someone has asked me, "are you getting ready for cross?" I'm kinda thinking I might be the butt of a joke, but I'm okay with that too.

Now that I think about it a bunch of folks have asked me lately if I was getting ready for cross.
My answer has always been the same, "well, you know I have school, so we'll see what I can do..."
Which is completely true and if you asked me right now to my face, that's the answer you'd get from me...

But let me say this:  OF COURSE I'M GETTING READY FOR CROSS. I'm always getting ready for cross. In January, I'm thinking about cross. When I'm racing mtb, I'm thinking about cross. As much as I love racing my bike: CROSS IS THE BEST OF IT ALL! And while, I'll admit, I'm not sure I'll do as much racing as I did last year: BUT I DAMN WILL TRY!

So yeah, I'm trying to get ready for cross, keep a job, go to school and hang out with my awesome wife and dogs. Even, if I don't tell you that to your face.

call me , maybe.


I'm no Nike fan, but I like this find your greatness campaign... Inspiring...